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The Project POOCH MISSION STATEMENT: Project POOCH provides opportunities for youth in corrections to develop the personal and vocational skills they will need to become responsible, productive members of the community. The program accomplishes this by teaching youth to care for and train shelter dogs for adoption.
Project POOCH, Inc., is a non-profit, 501c(3) organization that has successfully paired youths incarcerated at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon, with homeless shelter dogs since 1993. The youths work with their dogs daily, and practice the principles of positive reinforcement and behavior modification. As the trainers manage their dogs, they learn how to manage their own behavior. They also earn school credits, develop good work habits, and acquire valuable occupational skills. The relationships, emotional support and mutual trust established between the trainers and dogs are pivotal to the success of the program. For some students and dogs, this relationship is a first experience of unconditional love, and it helps them develop the self-confidence and hope they need to build future relationships. Youths are closely monitored. Participants have consistently demonstrated a reduced incidence of aggression toward others during their stay at MacLaren. They also show growth in leadership skills and improvement in their ability to work with others.
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